|Memorial for the brothers connected at the arrow|
Junior returned to my campsite as I finished the last of my Little Caesar's from the night before. He had begged his mom to get me some hot food the night before and pleaded with me to accept. I felt like a jerk for having her drive us out to the store, believe me, but the lad was relentless in his desire to see me fed and comfortable and only a yes would ever end his relentless pursuit of some way to help.
Before parting I gave him my phone number and my business card. He is scheduled to call on Thursday, which will be his birthday. Please God let my phone have a signal then.
I've had a lot of difficult goodbyes in the course of this long journey, but none harder than this morning's. I hope Junior can stay in touch because I will be worrying and wondering about him.
The walk began in quiet contemplation, melancholy and regret dominating my thinking. Nebraska's pioneer past intervened, jolting me from my doldrums.
I spoke yesterday about the towns of central Nebraska, most of which were founded in the 1870s or shortly thereafter. What of the years before? The pioneers of the 1860s and earlier found a land already occupied by tribes such as the Omaha, Winnebago, Santee, and Sioux. None were pleased to see the newcomers as the white man had gained something of a reputation by then - but the Sioux were especially perturbed.
As a result, the Nebraska frontier at this time was a dangerous and hostile place to live. The federal government was preoccupied with a small civil disturbance back east and could offer little protection. The Sioux took advantage.
I saw two examples of their wrath in a matter of miles. First came the memorial for a young woman murdered in her house, her cold dead hands holding her baby. A short distance on came the Martin Brothers Memorial. The two siblings were caught unaware by a Sioux raid and forced to share a horse in a frantic attempt to escape. An arrow struck one brother, impaling him before entering the second and pinning the boys together. The newly minted Siamese Twins fell from their horse and were left for dead. Miraculously, they survived. Talk about a near death experience bringing you closer!
By the late 1860s the Civil War was over and the United States Army was able to respond to the Sioux threat. Peace came to Nebraska soon afterward.
For now we return to the present and the never-ending search for a place to put the tent. My original intention was to stop in Prosser, but upon scoping out the scene I deemed the parkless, churchless, restaurantless village an unlikely place to find success. There was a sign for a Lutheran house of worship two miles on, which could be easily integrated into my route. I pursued the option.
The choice turned out to be the correct one as Pastor Volzke lived next door and was glad to let me camp at the church. He also offered use of the facilities, which included a bathroom and shower. I was also invited to join the family, which included wife Peg and daughter Laura, for a dinner of cheeseburgers and baked beans. Those Dutch oven jokes may haunt me yet.
Before dessert the pastor showed me his collection of doves and homing pigeons. He has over one hundred and fifty of various breeds, many with an interesting genetic mutation which causes feathers to grow on their feet. One brown pigeon could roll around like a bowling ball in search of pins. Volzke had recently sold his most prized bird to an emir in Qatar for a hefty sum.
While we enjoyed Peg's banana squares for dessert, the family invited me to s]Sunday School and service the next morning. In need of some spiritual guidance I was glad to accept. The pastor's doves sat peacefully atop the church, cooing their approval.
18 miles/2044 total miles